French Court Orders France 2 to Turn Over Al Dura 'Rushes'
Presiding magistrate Laurence Tr√©bucq officially confirmed the court order anticipated during the September 19th Appellate Court hearing of Philippe Karsenty's appeal against his October 2006 conviction for defamation against France 2 and Charles Enderlin. The Court has ordered France 2 to turn over, before October 31st, the unedited raw footage filmed by France 2 cameraman Talal Abu Rahma on September 30th and October 1st 2000.
Ma√Ætre B√©n√©dicte Amblard, representing France 2, confirmed that her client will comply with the order. The 27-minute video will be projected in the (open) courtroom on November 14th. The case will be heard in full on the 27th of February 2008.
French mainstream media are observing, to date, a total blackout of information on the case. The same media that touted the France 2 victory over Karsenty in October 2006, with headlines claiming "The icon of the Intifada was not staged" have turned a blind eye to new developments.
Except for Charles Enderlin who dances with joy on his France 2 blog. Announcing the decision to project the footage as if it were his own ultra bright idea, he justifies the refusal over the past seven years to expose it to public or even semi-private scrutiny as a sign of exquisite legality. Only the Court has eyes pure enough to contemplate the handiwork of camerman Talal Abu Rahma.
There are only two witnesses to the supposed incident-Abu Rahma and Jamal, identified as the father of Mohamed al Dura, "the first shahid of the al Aqsa Intifada." Abu Rahma said he filmed 27 minutes of the 45-minute incident. That would give 27 minutes of Jamal and Mohamed crouching in fear, howling in anguish, pinned down by uninterrupted gunfire, getting shot. Bullets would be hitting them and the wall behind them faster than the eye could count. And the 55-second "news report" would reinsert seamlessly into the context from which it was drawn.
Anything short of that-and we know that the raw footage has not the slightest resemblance with the above description--would be proof that the sole witnesses to the alleged incident were both lying. Which leaves what? Nothing and no one. No one reliable and nothing verifiable.
As we came out the courtroom this afternoon, my informer explained to me that the Court will not, of course, judge the authenticity of the so-called news report; the case will be decided on the basis of Karsenty's good faith and adequate investigation of the charges he relayed, as director of Media-Ratings, against France 2 and Charles Enderlin. True enough. But the court must have an inkling that the outtakes will be a fair indication of the overall quality of the whole al Dura report. The ruling will turn on a legal technicality-did Karsenty's second-hand knowledge of the approximate contents of the outtakes justify accrediting the accusation that France 2 had broadcast a staged scene? But the wisdom behind the judgment will certainly be informed by the view of 27 minutes of staged scenes filmed by the prize-winning France 2 cameraman...and now presented by France 2 as proof of its good faith.
PJ Media will be knocking on French media doors to ask why they've decided to pass on this big international story...
The Second Draft has raw footage shot at Netzarim Junction by a Reuters cameraman on September 30, 2000...similar to what will be seen in Abu Rahma's 27-minute outtakes.
The Augean Stables has up to date information and links, including a report on an interview with Jamal al Dura.
My latest article in Contentions.
James Fallows of The Atlantic Monthly is back on the story.